Ole VASA, the Vietnamese American Student Association, will host their annual Culture Show tonight at 8:15 p.m. at the Jackson Avenue Center. This year’s theme is “Breaking Barriers,” and the show will feature modern and traditional dance, fashion, poetry and a video skit to demonstrate Vietnamese culture.
About 35 members will display traditional Vietnamese wardrobes along with modern style to combine the culture of past and present. Eric Pham, who handles public relations for Ole VASA, explained that the theme aims to reflect the duality of being Asian-American.
“We chose this as our theme because we wanted to showcase the Asian-American identity and what it means to ‘live in the hyphen,’” Pham said. “Our identity is the combination of both cultures. We are trying to expand on breaking stereotypes, like the model minority myth.”
Ole VASA consists of 116 members, but only 67 of the student members are of Vietnamese descent. The other 49 members are a collection of differing ethnicities. Irina Tran, Ole VASA’s co-president, said that the group is open to all and encourages diversity.
“I want this club to be considered as an open organization, meaning you don’t have to be Asian to join,” Tran said. “As minorities at Ole Miss, we would like to reach all other ethnicities in order to prove that we’re just like any other student. This way, we could help create a more inclusive and diverse environment within our club and on campus.”
Ole VASA is an organization open to people of all ethnicities to bond over Vietnamese culture, like food and mutual interests. With the “Breaking Barriers” show, Ole VASA members hope that they can connect to students who may not understand the Asian-American culture.
Helen Hua, the secretary for the group, said the members of Ole VASA see the organization as more than a club, but as a community that they can feel understood.
“(The club) has been a way for me to connect with other Vietnamese people and people that have an appreciation for Vietnamese culture,” Hua said. “In high school, I felt very disconnected to my culture because there weren’t many Asian people. But, when I came to college it was nice to have friends that deal with similar experiences and have similar interests.”
Members of Ole VASA say the Culture Show is a way to highlight Asian-American culture and hope attendees will understand how cultural differences can be a positive impact in society and for the community to be able to relate to the performances.
“I hope the audience will be able to see how diverse the Ole Miss community is, not just by appearance but also by other commonalities,” Pham said.